Concerns have been raised about the “demise of democracy”, possibly accelerated by pandemic-related restrictions. Using a survey experiment involving 8,206 respondents from five Western democracies, we find that subjects randomly exposed to information regarding civil liberties infringements undertaken by China and South Korea to contain COVID-19 became less willing to sacrifice rights and more worried about their long-term-erosion. However, our treatment did not increase support for democratic procedures more generally, despite our prior evidence that pandemic-related health risks diminished such support. These results suggest that the start of the COVID-19 crisis was a particularly vulnerable time for democracies.
Alsan, Marcella, Luca Braghieri, Sarah Eichmeyer, Minjeong Joyce Kim, Stefanie Stantcheva, and David Y. Yang. "The Health of Democracies During the Pandemic: Results from a Randomized Survey Experiment." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP23-004, January 2023.